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How to Spend 2 Days in Athens, Greece: An Easy Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

If you’ve ever dreamed of wandering through one of the world’s oldest cities, Athens, Greece is calling your name. This city is a treasure trove of history and culture, from the iconic Acropolis to the lively streets of Plaka. Athens has a little something for everyone.

Lindsey of Have Clothes, Will Travel wearing a Karina Dress standing in front of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece on a cloudy and windy day
The Parthenon 

In today’s post, I’ll share how to spend 2 days in Athens, Greece. This Athens itinerary is a little different than the majority you will see. While I love history and museums, I didn’t want to spend an entire day in museums, as many itineraries suggest. I wanted to try and see a good mix of different sites and wander at a leisurely pace.

I was also very interested in seeing the Temple of Poseidon, which is a little ways outside of Athens. With this 2-day Athens itinerary, you will be outside of Athens for a half-day, but I will also offer options if you don’t want to leave Athens for the Temple of Poseidon. So don’t worry! I’ll explain this all and then some in this post!

The Temple of Poseidon
The Temple of Poseidon
My Athens, Greece Youtube Video:

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Day 1 – Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, The Temple of Olympian Zeus, Panathenaic Stadium, Plaka


Morning – Acropolis + Museum

Start your day with the Acropolis!

No trip to Athens is complete without visiting the iconic Acropolis. This ancient citadel has stood as a testament to the city’s glorious past for over two millennia.

Now, what to see when you visit the Acropolis…

The Parthenon 
The Parthenon 

The Parthenon 

The Parthenon is the undisputed crown jewel of the Acropolis. It was constructed between 447 and 438 BC. This awe-inspiring temple dedicated to the goddess Athena is a true wonder of the ancient world. 

Other Acropolis Highlights

Along with the Parthenon, the Acropolis complex has several other remarkable structures, each with its own captivating history. Be sure to explore the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, and the Theater of Dionysus, where the timeless tragedies of ancient Greece were once performed. 

You’ll also see the Herodeon, which has been staging musical and theatrical performances – on and off – for two full millennia. I’ll link to its website here so you can see who is performing when you visit! 

the Herodeon
The Herodeon

Timing Your Visit

I HIGHLY recommend visiting the Acropolis right away on your first day in Athens, as it can sometimes be closed due to weather… This was the case when we tried to visit on our first day. The rain made the stairs dangerously slippery, so they closed it down for the day until the sun returned! Fortunately, we were able to swap around our itinerary and just visited the Acropolis a little later than we had originally planned.

It’s also a good idea to reserve your Acropolis tickets in advance, as The Acropolis has a daily visitor’s cap to avoid overcrowding. Also, the line to buy tickets at the Acropolis will be incredibly long. (Note: The official ticket website from which we bought our tickets is no longer in service. I am linking to a skip-the-line ticket from Viator, which is a tour company I use and trust.)

We explored by ourselves for a couple hours, but I do think booking a guide would have been a good idea, especially if you enjoy learning about history.

The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum

Next, take a 5-minute walk and head to the Acropolis Museum. It’s one of the world’s best archaeological museums. Here, you’ll find an impressive collection of artifacts and sculptures. The museum’s innovative design, with its glass floors and panoramic views of the Acropolis, creates a wonderfully immersive and educational experience. And a really cool part is the outdoor part, where there’s a large archaeological ruins beneath the museum floor, which you can see through the glass. You can buy your tickets at the entrance here, and expect to spend around 1-2 hours in the museum.

The ruins beneath the Acropolis Museum.
The ruins beneath the Acropolis Museum.

Lunch

For lunch, the Acropolis Museum Restaurant is a convenient and great place to stop for a late breakfast or lunch. The coffee and food were really tasty, and you’re treated to fabulous views of the Acropolis.

Another option is to venture over to Plaka for lunch at a traditional taverna.

Afternoon – Temple of Zeus, Panathenaic Stadium, Plaka

The Temple of Olympian Zeus

After lunch, head to the Temple of Zeus. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the Acropolis or about a 5-minute cab ride. 

The Temple of Olympian Zeus was one of the largest ancient Greek temples ever constructed. Although only a few columns remain standing, this structure’s sheer scale and grandeur are truly awe-inspiring. You’ll spend about 30-45 minutes here.

Panathenaic Stadium
Panathenaic Stadium

Then, on to the Panathenaic Stadium, which hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. This is about a 10-minute walk and will take around 45 minutes to visit as well.

Evening

Stroll through the Plaka district and enjoy its vibrant atmosphere, shops, and cafes.

You can stop and have dinner at one of Plaka’s many traditional restaurants, or you could head back toward the Acropolis and have dinner at Dionysos Zonar’s, which is what we did. We really enjoyed the food and the service… and of course, you can’t beat the views (above)!

Day 2 – Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon


Morning – Roman Agora and the Tower of the Winds

Start your day at the Roman Agora and the Tower of the Winds. Plan to spend about 1-1 and a half hours exploring these ancient sites.

Roman Agora
Roman Agora
the Tower of the Winds
The Tower of the Winds

Check out the Gate of Athena Archegetis and wander through the ancient marketplace where traders and philosophers once gathered. Be sure to see the Tower of the Winds, which was the world’s first meteorological center with a sundial, water clock, and wind vane!

Hadrian’s Library
Hadrian’s Library

Then visit Hadrian’s Library, which is just a few minutes walk away. This ancient Roman library was built in the 2nd century AD and reflects the rich history of the city and the enduring legacy of Emperor Hadrian. I would say to plan to spend around 45 minutes wandering here.

Monastiraki Square
Monastiraki Square

Once you’re done with Hadrian’s Library, walk over to Monastiraki Square. Here, you’ll find tons of food options and plenty of souvenir options! You can have lunch here or have lunch along the water during the next portion of this day!

Afternoon – Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon

If you don’t want to leave Athens to visit the Temple of Poseidon, like I did, I will offer other options after this, so don’t worry!

Cape Sounion
Cape Sounion

In the afternoon, take a scenic drive or tour to Cape Sounion, which is about 1.5-2 hours from Athens. Here, you will visit the Temple of Poseidon and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea.This temple was built in the 5th century BC and is considered one of the most iconic and well-preserved examples of ancient Greek architecture. This is also an incredible place to watch the sunset.

the Temple of Poseidon
The Temple of Poseidon

Plan to spend around 1-1.5 hours exploring the site. I personally recommend booking a tour here, vs driving yourself. I’ll link to some great options in the description, some offer also some great lunch options along the sea!

Evening:

Return to Athens and get cleaned up for dinner. I highly recommend making a reservation at a rooftop restaurant for your last night in the city. We dined at The GB Roof Garden Restaurant and Bar, which is on top of the Hotel Grande Bretagne. Be sure to make a reservation well in advance!

Now, if you don’t want to spend the afternoon traveling to the Temple of Poseidon, here are some other great options you can visit:

  • The National Archaeological Museum: this museum is one of the most important in the world and contains a vast collection of Greek antiquities.
  • Syntagma Square and the Changing of the Guard: Here, you can witness the changing of the guard at the Parliament building in Syntagma Square.
  • Another great way to spend your last afternoon is to take a food tour or cooking class in Athens!

Where We’ve Stayed in Athens and Recommend


Hotel Grande BretagneThis is a great option if you are a Marriott Bonvoy member. Your points and status go a long way here! It’s quite pricey, though, if you’re not planning to use points like we did. This hotel has a lovely pool area, luxurious rooms, and decadent amenities. It’s right across the way from the Syntagma Square.

Our room at Hotel Grande Bretagne
Our room at Hotel Grande Bretagne

Ava Hotel and Suites -This is a great bang for your buck hotel, in my opinion. The rooms are quite affordable and very spacious. They are also located on a quiet street in Plaka in the middle of the Historical Centre, so you won’t have to worry about hearing outside noise. but you’re still within walking distance of the Acropolis. I was really happy staying at Ava Hotel and Suites!

The Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece at sunset

If anyone has any questions about this Athens itinerary and how to spend 2 days in Athens, Greece, please reach out in the comments at the end of the post.

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